Stolen.

Stolen
. I was reading an IVF success story a friend had passed along my way yesterday, and the woman who had shared her story wrote that “infertility steals who you are.”

It wasn’t until that moment that I realized it. 

Infertility does steal who you are. It steals your body and changes it. It complicates your emotions. It hijacks your hormones. It makes every moment of your life seem like a tiny little hell hole that only you exist in. 

It’s not just sweat you are feeling falling from your skin in this race, you are literally breaking apart. Little pieces of you break off with each hurtle you jump. 

Every moment, every single moment something gets lost. And you cope with it like it never existed before. What choice do you have? 

I feel like my life is measured in doctors appointments. I’m always waiting for the next ultrasound/blood work/surgery. You live in a world of “worst case scenarios” because it can and always does get worse. 

Meanwhile, through all these doctors visits, ultrasounds, and surgeries I ruin special moments for my friends and family. I can’t go dress shopping for my friend’s wedding because I’m lying on the couch on mandatory bed rest. With any upcoming social events I have to gauge what I can and can’t do with what the new cycle might bring, and usually that means a days and sometimes hours notice. I even have to carry my medication with me in a lunchbox because I’m tethered to a schedule. Sometimes I have to inject myself in a public restroom, which feels a lot like a drug addict. 

I have reminders set on my phone to take medication at all sorts of strange hours. 

To make matters worse every time I take Estrace I become a homicidal maniac. What’s with that? 
I took a walk at lunch today and I had to decide whether it was worth it. A walk. Something I used to routinely do… But lately I haven’t (mainly because I physically couldn’t walk -or even bend/stretch for that matter). But I know I shouldn’t be changing my routine too much right now… I know another round of bed rest is on its way. 

The reality is that most of the time I’m like a human slug these days because of my body. I just don’t have the energy. Infertility steals your energy.

Does it get easier? No. You just get used to it. 
It’s like being kidnapped and held hostage by your own body. 

But even so… I am hoping that what was stolen can be replaced with bigger and better things.

Every single moment of this makes you stronger. You will survive and it will surprise you how well you do it. Every hoop you jump through makes the next one easier. You start to expect them. You have to keep pushing. You have to keep taking steps. I know what this reward is, and it’s worth the path littered with the broken pieces of the soul you have left behind along the way. 

Infertility steals who you are, but that’s what a good insurance policy for. 

Dun Dun DUNNN… Heavy Post.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about infertility, something that has become a bit of a “dark passenger” for me.  Yeah… Kinda like my ovaries are in cahoots with Dexter Morgan.

Just last year I was diagnosed with Endometriosis.  After spending the larger portion of my life complaining about my cramps, I was finally diagnosed at 29.  The ridiculous part is that I’ve been going to the same OBGYN since I was 11 when my period started because I had intense cramping.  Slapping a bandaide on it, my doc put me on birth control at 13… Which was not something I was entirely opposed to seeing as my libido was turning on around the same time.  (Not that I was active at 13… I didn’t have sex until I was 16.  But my mind figured better be safe then sorry.  Plus I went to Catholic school.  People did not turn up pregnant in catholic school… ***Cue GOT “Shame” Chorus.***)

Anyways… The past 5 years the pain had become severe during my periods.  At some point I had actually switched over to a continuous birth control.  It’s actually an odd God-Send that I did, because the less active my ovaries, the less severe the endo (Ha!).  If I had not been on BC who knows.  I would probably be completely sterile now.

Where was I going with that?  Oh Yeah… About 5 years ago I flat out told my doc “Hey… There is a ball of lava in my left side… And one of these days it’s going to erupt!”

Nope.  I was just crazy.

Jump forward in time, I got married to my husband.  After a year we decided to start to try.  6 months later I finally got pregnant.  And then… I had a miscarriage.  After weeks of calling my OBGYN and complaining of pain I started to bleed the day before the agreed to see me.  See, they generally don’t want to see you until week 6.  But I was in pain.  They said not to come in unless I started to bleed.  By the time I started to bleed it was like a flood.  Good old OBGYN didn’t even do a ultrasound to check where the sac was… Just tested my blood to make sure the HCG was leaving my body.  I sat there weeping on the table with my husband holding my hand while the midwife told me “Just try again.”  2 Chemical losses later I decided enough was enough.  At this point, I had also been off of the pill for well over a year and during my periods I could barely walk.  I would literally limp to the bathroom and bleed profusely in the shower.  But I’m just “crazy.”

The interesting thing is that all 3 losses were probably ectopic and my body was trying to save me.

Anyways… With the referral of a neighbor we ended up in the best fertility clinic in the state of Delaware.  Within 5 mins my new doctor diagnosed me with endo.  I still remember being shocked.  The funny thing about endo is that you can’t diagnose the stage until you are actually doing the surgery, but they could do some tests to take a look before opening me up.

The very first ultra sound, on my left side, they saw a large endometrioma on my left ovary, more then doubling it in size.  Exactly where I said it was.  I sat there and cried again while the nurse hugged me.  A few more dreadful tests later (One where they shot dye up into my tubes and I actually cried out in pain while my mother held my hand) I found myself in the outpatient center waiting for surgery with a snazzy gown/hair net combo with my husband and mother to keep vigil.

Funny thing was… My surgery got bumped down to the end of the day because they didn’t expect it to be that bad… But when they opened me up they were very wrong.  An hour and half surgery turned into 4 hours.  The endo was everywhere… It had even glued my colon to my abdomen wall.  I also had 4 endometrioma’s or “Chocolate cysts.”

I still remember seeing my doc right after the surgery and her telling me it was stage 4 “Severe” and I replied “So we do IVF now?”  She patted my arm and said she was going to talk to my husband and mother.

A week later I limped into the office with my husband and mother where we scrolled through disgusting pictures of my internal organs with my amazing and triumphant doctor.  The Bad News:  My tubes and ovaries were so messed up and traumatized from the endo I would never conceive naturally.

The very next day I had my first appointment with my new IVF doctor.  They said I was setting a record for how quickly I wanted to start IVF, but as long as I was sure they were sure.  3 weeks later a fridge box showed up with tons of scary fricking needles (I have a needle phobia).

My husband has been the absolute best, lovingly administering needles day and night.  When it was all said and done, I only had 20 follicles left, and 11 working follicles… 8 on my right and 3 on my left.  We ended up with 9 eggs, all 9 mature, and all 9 fertilized.  5 made it to blastocyst and we opted to do a fresh transfer.  Needless to say, I am not pregnant now because I had another chemical pregnancy loss.  4 losses total now.  But the good news, we had hedged our bets and done a biopsy and freeze on the 4 remaining embryos.  Right after the loss we had the 4 biopsies sent off and 2 of them came back normal.  Which means 2 of them were abnormal, one had an extra chromosome and one had a missing chromosome.  They weren’t major defects, but they would not have survived.

So why at 29 do I have such bad eggs when we have not medical history to suggest abnormalities?  Well.  It’s because the endo ate up most of my eggs.  We knew I had a limited supply right after the surgery.  The best way to explain it is:  You have a full basket of eggs.  The top eggs are the best, the middle eggs are okay, and the bottom eggs are just… Ehhh.  I’m at the bottom of the basket so my statistics are much higher for abnormalities.  SO we have 2 in the freezer.

Sunday I started a new round of injections.

I’ve stopped being ashamed of this.  Why should I be ashamed?

I shouldn’t be ashamed because I’ve been a lot stronger then I thought I would ever be (not that I thought I would ever be in this situation). But there have been days where I would have rather completely shut down then live in this hell. But I keep going, teary eyed and hopeful.

I’ve been mainly ashamed that my body would fail me in the one act of womanhood (Because I really suck at being a woman). I always wanted to be a mother someday, but I waited to have children, mainly so I could provide a stable life. Where’s the shame in that?

With that in mind, I would be remiss to not mention, that above all I have learned that we have some really great family and friends who will listen even when they don’t know what to say to make it better.  …Those people are the keepers!

Mainly I don’t want judgement or platitudes. People can say such hurtful things… Like “just relax” (because relaxing will somehow heal my scar tissue or maybe it will replenish the eggs my body decided to eat over the past 20 years?). Or “why don’t you just adopt?” Like adoption is so simple… Or they can’t comprehend that I could possibly want a child that shares in our bloodline.
SO if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

So now as we start a new and different cycle, I guess we will see where this leads us.
Science is truly miraculous.